Lesson 23: “The Lord Be Between Thee and Me For Ever”

Old Testament: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (2001), 107–10


Purpose

To encourage class members to be true to their friends, as Jonathan and David were, and avoid being consumed by jealousy and hatred, as Saul was.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Prayerfully study the following scriptures:

    1. a.

      1 Samuel 18:1–16. Jonathan and David make a covenant of friendship (18:1–4). David is honored by the Israelites for his success in battle (1 Samuel 18:5–7). Saul becomes jealous of David and tries to kill him with a javelin (18:8–16; note that the Joseph Smith Translation of 1 Samuel 18:10 indicates that the evil spirit that came upon Saul was not from God).

    2. b.

      1 Samuel 18:17–30; 19:1–18. David fights the Philistines in exchange for the right to marry Saul’s daughter, unaware that Saul is hoping David will die on the battlefield (18:17–25). David triumphs over the Philistines and marries Saul’s daughter Michal (18:26–28). Jonathan tells David to hide and tries to convince Saul not to kill him (19:1–7). Saul fails in another attempt to kill David with a javelin (19:9–10; see footnote 9a). Michal saves David from another of Saul’s attempts on his life (19:11–18).

    3. c.

      1 Samuel 20. Jonathan and David renew their covenant of friendship and peace (note that this covenant was not only between Jonathan and David but was also between their households). When Saul again tries to kill David, Jonathan warns David to flee.

    4. d.

      1 Samuel 23–24. David continues to fight the Philistines and flee Saul. David finds Saul and spares his life.

  2. 2.

    Additional reading: 1 Samuel 14:1–16; 2 Samuel 1.

Suggested Lesson Development

Attention Activity

You may want to use the following activity (or one of your own) to begin the lesson.

Ask class members the following question:

  • What are some of the qualities you look for in a friend? (You may want to write class members’ answers on the chalkboard. Answers may include loyalty, integrity, unselfishness, kindness, and charity.)

Explain that part of this lesson teaches the importance of being a true friend.

Scripture Discussion and Application

As you teach the following scripture passages, discuss how they apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.

1. Jonathan and David make a covenant of friendship. Saul becomes jealous of David and tries to kill him.

Teach and discuss 1 Samuel 18:1–16.

David quickly became a hero after he killed Goliath. King Saul and the entire kingdom honored him. However, none was as true to David as was Jonathan, Saul’s son.

  • How did Jonathan and David feel about each other? (1 Samuel 18:1, 3.) Why would it have been easy for Jonathan to feel jealous of David?

    1. a.

      As Saul’s son, Jonathan was next in line to be king. However, the prophet Samuel had anointed David to become the next king (1 Samuel 16:6–13).

    2. b.

      While David was greatly honored by the people for his success in battle, Jonathan received little attention for his own success on the battlefield (1 Samuel 14:1–16).

  • Why do you think Jonathan was not jealous of David or threatened by him? (1 Samuel 18:1, 3.) How did Jonathan show his support for David? (See 1 Samuel 18:4. He gave his royal robe and weapons to David.)

  • How did King Saul feel about David after the slaying of Goliath? (See 1 Samuel 18:2, 5. Saul took David into his home and set him over his armies.) How did David show his loyalty to King Saul? (See 1 Samuel 18:5.)What prompted Saul to turn against David? (See 1 Samuel 18:6–9.) Why is it sometimes difficult to be happy about the success of others? How do jealousy and pride affect our spiritual well-being?

    President Ezra Taft Benson said:

    “Saul became an enemy to David through pride. He was jealous because the crowds of Israelite women were singing that ‘Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands’ (1 Samuel 18:7; see also 1 Samuel 18:6, 8).

    “The proud stand more in fear of men’s judgment than of God’s judgment. … ‘What will men think of me?’ weighs heavier than ‘What will God think of me?’ …

    “Fear of men’s judgment manifests itself in competition for men’s approval. The proud love ‘the praise of men more than the praise of God’ (John 12:42–43). Our motives for the things we do are where the sin is manifest. Jesus said He did ‘always those things’ that pleased God (John 8:29). Would we not do well to have the pleasing of God as our motive rather than to try to elevate ourselves above our brother and outdo another?

    “Some prideful people are not so concerned as to whether their wages meet their needs as they are that their wages are more than someone else’s. Their reward is being a cut above the rest. …

    “When pride has a hold on our hearts, we lose our independence of the world and deliver our freedoms to the bondage of men’s judgment. The world shouts louder than the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. The reasoning of men overrides the revelations of God, and the proud let go of the iron rod” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 4–5; or Ensign, May 1989, 5).

  • How did David act after the Lord blessed him with success on the battlefield? (See 1 Samuel 18:5, 14–16.) What can we learn from his example? What do you think it means to “behave [ourselves] wisely” when we are successful?

2. Saul fails in three more attempts to take David’s life.

Teach and discuss 1 Samuel 18:17–30; 19:1–18.

  • Saul offered to let David marry one of his daughters if David would fight the Philistines. What was Saul’s real motive in doing this? (See 1 Samuel 18:20–25. He hoped David would be killed by the Philistines.)

  • How was Jonathan a true friend when Saul sought to kill David? (See 1 Samuel 19:1–7.) What does it mean to be a true friend? In what ways are your friends true to you? How are you true to your friends?

  • Despite Jonathan’s efforts to change Saul’s feelings toward David, Saul continued to seek David’s life (1 Samuel 19:9–10). How did Michal, David’s wife, show that she was true to her husband? (See 1 Samuel 19:11–18.)

3. David and Jonathan renew their covenant of friendship, and Jonathan saves David’s life.

Teach and discuss 1 Samuel 20.

  • What was David’s reaction to Saul’s hatred and efforts to kill him? (See 1 Samuel 20:1.) How did Jonathan continue to show his friendship while Saul sought David’s life? (See 1 Samuel 20:2–4, 13–17, 23; see also 1 Samuel 20:24–42, which is discussed below.)

  • How did faith in God influence the friendship of Jonathan and David? (See 1 Samuel 20:23.) How does our love of God affect our love of others?

  • If we place loyalty to God first in our lives, what will we do if our friends do things that are wrong? (We will lovingly try to help our friends change.) What will we do if our friends ask us to do things that are wrong? (We will not do unrighteous things that our friends ask us to do, regardless of the social consequences, and we will try to influence our friends to make righteous choices.)

  • How was Jonathan to let David know if it was safe to come back to Saul’s court? (See 1 Samuel 20:5–7, 18–22.) How did King Saul respond to David’s absence and Jonathan’s defense of his friend? (See 1 Samuel 20:24–33.) How did Jonathan warn David to flee from Saul? (See 1 Samuel 20:35–42.)

4. Saul is consumed by hatred for David. David spares Saul’s life.

Teach and discuss 1 Samuel 23–24.

  • David was blessed with continued success on the battlefield (1 Samuel 23:1–5). Why did David have to leave the city of Keilah after he had saved its people from the Philistines? (See 1 Samuel 23:7–13.)

  • When Saul learned that David was in Keilah, he prepared his armies to destroy the entire city (1 Samuel 23:10). What changed Saul from a righteous king to someone who was willing to destroy an entire city in order to kill one person? Why are jealousy and hatred so consuming? How can we rid ourselves of jealousy or hatred?

  • When David was hiding from Saul, Jonathan visited David and “strengthened his hand in God” (1 Samuel 23:16). What do you think this means? How can we strengthen our friends in God?

  • During another attempt to find and kill David, Saul stopped to rest in a cave (1 Samuel 24:1–3). What did David’s men say when they found Saul? (See 1 Samuel 24:4.) What did David do? (See 1 Samuel 24:4–5. Note footnote 4a, which explains that David cut off the hem of Saul’s robe—the portion of the robe that symbolized authority.)

  • Why did David refuse to harm Saul? (See 1 Samuel 24:6–12.) What does David’s example teach us about revenge and about responding to those who do evil to us? (See 1 Samuel 24:12–15; see also Mormon 8:20.) What did Saul say when David spared his life? (See 1 Samuel 24:16–19.)

Conclusion

Point out that the story of Jonathan and David reminds us that true friendship and love bring us closer to our friends and to God. The story of Saul reminds us that jealousy and hatred can consume us and lead us away from our friends and from God. Encourage class members to be true to their friends so they can say to them, “The Lord be between thee and me for ever” (1 Samuel 20:23).

Additional Teaching Idea

Friendship self-evaluation

Use the following activity if you want to emphasize the importance of being a true friend.

Give each class member a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. Explain that you are going to ask them a few questions to help them determine if they are true friends. Have class members write their answers down, assuring them that they will not have to share their answers. Then ask the following questions:

  1. 1.

    What was the last kind thing you did for someone?

  2. 2.

    What do you do when you hear someone saying unkind things about another person?

  3. 3.

    What have you done to help your friends be better people?